UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents a bold new vision for arts in Birmingham

A new season of world-class performers and unique, innovative arts programming, just announced for 2012 by UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.

UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center has an expansive vision for the arts in Birmingham — creating, curating and commissioning bold, innovative and meaningful arts experiences.

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More than just a stage for presenting programs, the Alys Stephens Center is a community arts classroom, laboratory, public forum and cultural center for the state. This season the Alys Stephens Center’s focus on presenting great artists is broadening to include original arts programming. The center also has created a new magazine that reflects this vision and includes all aspects of the Alys Stephens Center’s events and endeavors, programs and partnerships.

“There is so much going on at the ASC that we have replaced the traditional season brochure with a new publication highlighting the new season and all of the exciting and innovative programming at the Center and at ArtPlay,” says Shirley Salloway Kahn, Ph.D., UAB’s vice president of university development.

The Center Magazine will be published twice yearly, containing stories and information about the coming season and other performances, works being created and commissioned, latest news on arts education in the community and the growth of the arts and cultural district at UAB.

For example, in the inaugural issue, the magazine features a first: the Alys Stephens Center’s groundbreaking, first-ever commission and world premiere of a work by composer Yotam Haber, “A More Convenient Season,” set for Sept. 2013, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 and the events of that year.

“The commissioning, research and planning of the creation of this work is a huge undertaking for the Alys Stephens Center, and is a testament to the belief that the arts have the power to heal,” says Theresa Harper Bruno, ASC corporate board chair. This premiere will take the Alys Stephens Center’s name outside of Birmingham to Los Angeles, where the work will be presented at Walt Disney Hall’s REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater.

cirque_storyThis season, for the first time, the Alys Stephens Center will create and present, in collaboration with MASS Collective, a unique, original production, “Cirque Alys Aerial Music,” an immersive, theatrical experience combining sculpture, music, unique instruments and aerial performers.

“This kind of fearless arts programming allows the Alys Stephens Center to respond to what is going on in the world and give the Birmingham community arts performances that are relevant,” Bruno says. “To curate programming at the Alys Stephens Center means we create and oversee performances that are original, that are not represented anywhere in the world. These programs are not tested. They are original to the ASC and there is no dress rehearsal.”

The Alys Stephens Center has a new season for 2012, filled with legendary, leading-edge artists selected to complement the center’s vision. This year the Alys Stephens Center will split its annual season into two parts, and the first part will include summer and fall shows. In 2012 the Alys Stephens Center will present world-renowned artists and entertainers including Al Pacino, Jason Isbell, Ledisi and Eric Benét, Eric Essix, Wynonna, Red Baraat, “The Daily Show Live,” MASS Collective, Emmylou Harris, Anthony Bourdain, Peabo Bryson, Martin Short and more. The second half of the season, for winter/spring 2013, will be announced in November.

Ticket packages are on sale now, and single tickets will go on sale June 4. Choose three or more shows and create the “It’s Your Choice” package to save 15 percent on the total price. Selected performances will feature $20 student tickets. For tickets, a copy of The Center Magazine or for more information, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.

In keeping with the Alys Stephens Center’s vision for education in the arts, a new series featuring Young Concert Artists will grace the parlor of ArtPlay, the center’s historic home for arts education on Birmingham’s Southside. The Parlor Music Series at ArtPlay, sponsored by Patty McDonald, will present young classical artists with promising careers and enable patrons to experience the recital in a more intimate space. Violinist Paul Huang will open the series.

ArtPlay’s class offerings have bloomed and with them new programs in the community. In addition to offering arts classes for all ages and summer arts camps for kids and teens, ArtPlay also offers community programs. ArtReach is one of ArtPlay’s newest endeavors and brings free, high-quality arts programming into the community at YWCA Woodlawn.

ArtPlay launched ArtCare to develop health-improving and life-enhancing arts classes and programs specifically aimed to engage elder adults. School children benefit from ArtPlay also, with the Make It Happen Performing Ensemble and Meet the Artist school shows. New ArtPlay classes for the fall include music, drama, ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop dance, musical theater, visual arts, improv and stand-up comedy, bookbinding, fabric arts, storytelling, drawing, painting, private instruction and more. Visit www.ArtPlayASC.org for more details.

Looking ahead, patrons can expect more experimental performances in spring 2013, when the Alys Stephens Center presents “Light Dreams: Lux Somnus Festival,” a celebration of the arts through digital projection, music interaction and engagement. Local artist Jean Jacques Gaudel and others will use the side wall of the Alys Stephens Center as a canvas for their digitally projected visions. Patrons will be able to marvel and engage in the interactive fun as well.

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